Washington Football fans embrace new era
LANDOVER (Md. FedEx Field has been criticized many times over the years. However, it was hard to find anyone at Sunday’s opening game for the Washington Football Team.
After empty seats and recorded crowd noise last year, a sun-drenched Landover stadium was packed with clapping, chanting and cheering NFL fans happy to welcome the return of football — even if the home team did come up short in the end.
“It’s great to be back in person,” stated Seth Lockard. “Last year, we had no fans, nobody able to go to the game, and now it’s like everyone’s excited for week one.”
The 24-year-old Washington fan was among an estimated crowd of 52,753 on hand for the season opener, a 20-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
For Connor O’Brien, 31, attending the game is a big deal because he was able to restart a family tradition. He and his brother attended nearly every home game for about 11 years until the pandemic hit.
“Because the COVID thing has been a bummer,” Mr. O’Brien stated. “So we’re glad we’re here
The stadium was filled with the smell of brats and burgers as pregame tailgating reverted to midseason.
” There are tons of cars around. “Everyone’s tailgating, having a great time [getting] to consume beer — all that,” Mr. O’Brien stated.
A new season for the NFC East champion brings excitement and hype. But Mr. Lockard noticed a change in the culture of the fans and the entire team .”
He said that Ron Rivera, who was also a cancer survivor, helped to create the culture shift.
I believe he has changed the culture of this team. It’s totally different,” Mr. Lockhart stated.
Mr. Lockhart stated that he had changed the culture of his team and it’s [going] heading in the right direction .”
HTML3_. He also said that changing the nickname of the team before last season helped fans turn the corner.
Under pressure from activists, corporate partners, and a nickname that was becoming increasingly offensive, the team changed its name to “Washington Redskins.”
The generic placeholder was meant to be a temporary solution until a new name could be chosen. However, “Washington Football Team”, a short-listed option, is being considered after an unexpected run to make the playoffs.
Joshua Schall, 40, said he understands the temporary name but wonders why it is taking so long to nail down something permanent.
” I don’t blame them if they changed from Redskins but I’m really pissed off that there wasn’t anything in place,” Mr. Schall stated. “How could you have missed this? That’s the issue.”
He is not a fan of the current name because the “location sport” naming method is common for soccer, not football. Of names that are in the mix, he likes “The Washington Generals” and “The Washington Defenders.”
Mr. Schall and wife Mandy, wearing burgundy and gold, set up foldable chairs and sipped beverages before heading into the stadium.
Ms. Schall, 39, said it’s “a day without the kids, the sun is shining so beautiful — it’s a perfect day for football.”
As a former dancer, she said, she was excited to see the first performance of the Washington Football Dance Team. The coed team was formed in the offseason to replace an all-female cheerleading group that was at the center of a scandal over sexual harassment involving Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, and many former executives and officials.
In a nearby parking lot, Thomas Maddams, 20, doused himself with sprayable sunscreen before taking down a Washington-themed tent and heading into the stadium.
He was with his brother, father and mother. They said that they hadn’t been to a home match in two years.
It’s nice having fans here,” he stated. “You know, the last time we were here was [against] Detroit. There weren’t many fans
that day. So it’s nice to have some excitement for Washington Football Team.”
As for the team’s name, Mr. Maddams said it does not matter “as long as they win football games.”